UPDATE, 2:09 PM PT: Joe Biden offered a short answer when asked by NBC News’ Kristen Welker’s question — is he satisfied with Vice President Kamala Harris’ work on voting rights and will she be his running mate in 2024.
“Yes and yes,” Biden said.
Harris has been the target of some media scrutiny, particularly on the right, of her effectiveness as vice president. More recently, some pundits have offered suggestions on a new No. 2 for 2024, like New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, who floated a Biden-Liz Cheney unity ticket.
“She is going to be my running mate,” Biden said. “I think she is doing a good job.”
UPDATE, 2 PM PT: At several points during Joe Biden’s press conference, he has railed against Republican intransigence, even saying that he has been surprised at the level of opposition.
That signals a not too uncommon strategy for the midterms: Running against the opposition as obstructionists. “Name one thing they are for,” Biden said.
He also tied the opposition to his predecessor, Donald Trump.
“Did you ever think that one man out of office could intimidate an entire party where they’re unwilling to take any vote contrary to what he thinks should be taken for fear of being defeated in a primary,” Biden said.
UPDATE, 1:42 PM PT: President Joe Biden insisted that his Build Back Better plan is not dead, and that he could still get “big chunks” of the legislation passed if the package is broken up into pieces.
“I think we can break the package up, get as much as we can now, and come back fight for the rest later,” Biden said.
He suggested that the energy and the $500 billion environment component of the bill may get passage as a standalone, while Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who has opposed the massive package, has expressed support for early childhood education, as well a proposals to pay for the legislation.
PREVIOUSLY: As he nears a year in office with underwater poll numbers, President Joe Biden started a press conference by running through a list of his administration’s accomplishments while acknowledging the American weariness over the ongoing Covid pandemic.
“Some people may call it a new normal,” Biden said. “I call it a job not yet finished. It will get better.”
“We are not there yet, but we will get there.”
Biden also seemed to accept that the administration was surprised by the Omicron variant, as reporters have queried White House officials in recent weeks on testing capacity.
“Should we have done more testing earlier? Yes. But we are doing more testing now,” Biden said.
This was Biden’s first formal press conference at the White House since last March, although the president has held joint events with foreign leaders as well as press availability in other situations. Only about 30 reporters were allowed to attend, due to the Covid pandemic, and they were spread apart in the East Room.
The press conference was carried across broadcast and cable networks, although the BBC cut away from Biden’s opening remarks, then turned to coverage of the controversy surrounding British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
More to come.